Form and Content
In Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, Stephen Jay Gould, a well-known scientist and a writer of rare skill, makes complex scientific theories understandable to a lay audience by interspersing everyday prose with technical and scientific language. His interjection of humble, humorous asides draws the reader into his sphere of the complex theories and odd creatures about which he writes.
This book is a celebratory volume to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Thirty essays are grouped into seven sections, headed by titles such as “Sensible Oddities” and “A Zebra Trilogy.” Each section contains three or more essays. Several have subheadings and contain five or six essays. A prologue gives an overview of the material covered in the book.
The catchy titles of the essays pique the reader’s interest: “Big Fish, Little Fish,” “Quick Lives and Quirky Changes,” “Worm for a Century, and All Seasons” are but a few. The comparison of physical size between male and female of different species is included in an essay disclosing the reproductive process of the anglerfish. Also included is a chapter on the decrease in the size of the Hershey chocolate bar over a twenty-year period. Physical oddities of mammals (human and otherwise), myths and realities of the animal world, and nineteenth century scientific findings are all described. A constant in this smorgasbord of information on...
(The entire section is 488 words.)